Commander Adam Dalgliesh, P. D. James's formidable and fascinating detective, returns to find himself enmeshed in a terrifying story of passion and mystery -- and in love.
The Dupayne, a small private museum in London devoted to the interwar years 1919 -- 1939, is in turmoil. As its trustees argue over whether it should be closed, one of them is brutally and mysteriously murdered. Yet even as Commander Dalgliesh and his team proceed with their investigation, a second corpse is discovered. Someone in the Dupayne is prepared to kill and kill again. Still more sinister, the murders appear to echo the notorious crimes of the past featured in one of the museum's galleries: the Murder Room.
The case is fraught with danger and complications from the outset, but for Dalgliesh the complications are unexpectedly profound. His new relationship with Emma Lavenham -- introduced in the last Dalgliesh novel, Death in Holy Orders -- is at a critical stage. Now, as he moves closer and closer to a solution to the puzzle, he finds himself driven further and further from commitment to the woman he loves.
The Murder Room is a powerful work of mystery and psychological intricacy from a master of the modern novel.
The Globe and Mail - Martin Levin
[A] superbly realized setting. … The plot unfolds at its Jamesian leisure; the rich, almost posh quality of its slow unveiling allows for sharp sketches of character and place…. [James] ought never to be confused with such practitioners of the murder-in-the-vicarage genre as Agatha Christie. She is subtler, more sophisticated, much more adept at creating character, and her social conservatism gives her a much darker view of human nature.
Waterstone's Books Quarterly (UK) The Murder Room is a brilliantly crafted novel, brimming with detail and rich in suspense; a further testament to James's skills in both.
....the whodunit aspect falls short of James's best work. Hopefully, this is an isolated lapse for an author who excels at characterization and basic human psychology.
Despite a plot less ineluctable than her best (Death in Holy Orders, 2001, etc.), James creates another teeming world in which murder is only the symptom of a more pervasive mortality.
Booklist - Bill Ott
James, at 83, has mastered the trick of repeating herself in ever-fascinating new ways.
The Independent (UK)
If crime fiction were classical music, P. D. James's books would be filed under Grand Opera. In a sense, James is the last of the great Golden Age crime writers. She has an instinctive grasp of narrative despite the leisurely prose, the shocks are beautifully handled. The plot purrs along like a well-designed and well-maintained engine. James writes with rare authority about the civil service, the police and the justice system. She also does an exceptionally good corpse -- she never cheapens the physical appearance of death, but describes it with both respect and clinical attention to detail.
[T]he premise is delicious.
The Guardian (UK)
James's eye for architecture and nature is rare in most genres of the novel now, and this skill for physical description -- along with her psychological acuity.
Winnipeg Free Press
James is a delight to read, a writer in love with the language as much as her characters and her detailed plots.… This is an exquisite book, perfect in its details.
This is a grand, gothic novel of gut-wrenching suspense, satisfying at all levels. . . . Here is a novel which goes beyond mere enjoyment.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
This is the first book I have read by the author. It was suspenseful and as I got more into the book I couldn't put it down. I would like to read more of her books. I can't believe that she is 83 years old. Wow that is great for a writer.
Rated of 5
great book, strong characterisation and a surprising motive for murder. but hte first 200 pages were slow moving, filled with new characters, whcih could be tohught of as essential to the uncovering of the suspects, or equally, as boring and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Carol P
It was much to literary for too long. The last two chapters moved along and provided interest. The rest of the book was too slow--a yawn.
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